Social Media

#Handlegate: Controversy erupts over PMO’s Twitter handle

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on March 12, 2018



Resetting of the @PMOIndia handle by the UPA has raised the hackles of the BJP and its followers

At the fag end of its tenure, the UPA couldn’t help stirring up a hornet’s nest, even though it was on Twitter’s virtual world.

As Narendra Modi took charge of the BJP’s Parliamentary Committee, the twitter handle @PMOIndia was renamed @PMOIndiaArchive on Tuesday.

This was the official communication twitter handle of outgoing PM Manmohan Singh and his PR team. It has 1.24 million followers.

At the same time, @PMOIndia was reset for the new PM. The profile of the twitter handle @PMOIndiaArchive said that it has “archival material under the RTI Act for the Prime Minister’s office till May 20, 2014. @PMOIndia will be available shortly.” Within a few minutes this created a flutter across Twitterdom.

Pankaj Pachauri, the outgoing PM’s media advisor tweeted: “An advisory: All our official communications are being archived according to the RTI Act. Copyrights and control remain with the office.”

The BJP was quick to react. BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman tweeted: “Isn’t @PMOIndia for communication from the Prime Minister’s Office? An institutional handle which should continue seamlessly. Surprised!”

According to media reports, BJP leader Meenakshi Lekhi said that this was “disgraceful, unethical and illegal”. Agencies quoted Arvind Gupta, BJP IT Cell Head, as saying that the renaming of @PMOIndia was done in an “unethical” manner and that the tweets should have been archived and the handle handed over.

Online rage

Even the Twitterati jumped into the controversy. While some users called it a “needless fracas” and “cheap tactics” of the Congress, others demanded that Twitter block the outgoing PM’s handle since it was verified by Twitter.

Some Twitter users said that it was an institutional handle and should be managed by the Prime Minister’s Office rather than a particular individual.

Tweeps also pointed to the loss of followers due to the resetting of the PMO’s twitter handle and some wondered what information was being kept out of bounds of the new PMO team.

In the meantime, the newly created @PMOIndia has already garnered over 8,000 followers.

It remains to be seen whether PM-elect Narendra Modi, who tweets from @narendramodi and has 4.22 million followers, will shift to tweeting from @PMOIndia.

Published on May 20, 2014

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